The Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP) is a public humanities project designed to document and archive the unique cultural history of a diaspora of African Americans who partook in an intergenerational migration into and out of the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky throughout the 20th century. The Appalachian region often escapes the collective consciousness of Americana. Even when representations of Appalachia do enter the cultural-historical discourse in academia or in the media, African Americans are rarely inscribed into the social heritage of this region. However, there were tens of thousands of African Americans who first migrated from the rural South to the coalfields of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky—if only for one generation—as a first stop throughout the Great Migration. Because of this peculiar layover, there are many African Americans across the country who still call Appalachia “home”. The overarching goals of this project are:
1. To create a community archive, from the ground up, through the personal donations of African Americans who share a social heritage with the Appalachian region.
2. To contribute to the proliferation of public knowledge by providing access to the materials donated to the archive.
3. To create an opportunity for interdisciplinary research collaborations amongst graduate students and faculty in the social sciences and humanities.
The Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project presents an opportunity to unearth the contours of this rich piece of American history through the power of personal narrative. Through this initiative, individuals, families, and organizations who share Eastern Kentucky roots will have the opportunity to donate to the EKAAMP collection; a collection that will include a combination of oral history interviews, physical materials and objects relating to the cultural history in Appalachia, their subsequent migration, and their experiences throughout the pre-and post Civil Rights-era of the 20th Century.